St. Sergius of Radonezh is the patron saint of Russia, father of northern Russian monasticism, and founder of the Holy Trinity Monastery. Few people have had such a profound influence on Russian life as St. Sergius and his monastery. He was a great mystic and ascetic, whose life spanned much of the 14th century, at the time that Russia was occupied by the Mongol Tartars. After the repose of his parents, in 1334 the 20-year-old youth went into the deep forest, about 45 miles northeast of Moscow, to seek spiritual solitude. He lived a very austere ascetic life, marked by extreme poverty, hard physical labor, and profound humility and simplicity. After a few years of solitude in the forest, disciples started to gather around him, and Russia was forever changed. Through the labors of St. Sergius’ disciples, the northern forest wilderness blossomed with numerous monasteries, which were to play a very significant role in the subsequent life of Russia. He reposed in 1392.
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